OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – George Springer has developed into a powerful tone-setter for the Houston Astros.
Springer’s eighth leadoff homer of the season sparked a five-run first inning and the Astros once again made themselves at home in Oakland with an 8-4 victory over the Athletics on Tuesday night.
“We’re wowed by him because he’s setting such a great tone at the top of the order and doing it with a lot of power,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “The first at-bat of the game you have to be ready. He’s kind of must-see TV at the top of the order.”
Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel each added an RBI double, and Alex Bregman hit a two-run single in the first against Sonny Gray (2-3) to give the Astros their eighth straight win at the Coliseum and 13th in the last 14 meetings with the A’s overall.
Francis Martes (2-0) was the beneficiary of the early outburst and won his second straight start to begin his career. Houston’s heralded prospect allowed three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Chad Pinder hit a solo homer and Khris Davis and Jaycob Brugman added RBI hits for the A’s, who cut the deficit to one but couldn’t climb out of the early hole.
“We kept going and found some good at-bats and scored some runs, got ourselves back in the game,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’re an at-bat away from tying the game.”
Carlos Correa gave the Astros some insurance with a two-run single in the eighth, and Carlos Beltran added a solo homer in the ninth.
Martes got plenty of support from his hitters, most notably Springer, who homered for the third straight game to give him 21 this year. Springer hit a 3-1 pitch from Gray over the wall in left field, tying the franchise record for leadoff homers in a season held by Craig Biggio (2001) and Springer (last season).
Springer is five shy of the major league record set by Alfonso Soriano in 2003.
“I don’t look into stuff like that,” he said. “I just try to hit the ball hard and help the team. I’m hitting first and whatever happens, happens. I guess it’s cool.”
The next two Astros reached before Gray got Correa to hit into a double play. Gray struggled to get that third out, though, allowing three hits, one walk and a batter to reach on an error before finally escaping the inning.
“I just kind of got behind in some counts, threw some two-strike pitches that maybe caught too much of the plate,” Gray said. “In the first, I kind of got away from the game plan a little bit and started to leave some balls kind of over the middle more.”
Astros: Josh Reddick was activated off the concussion disabled list and started in left field. He had two hits, a walk and a run scored. … RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (lower back) is scheduled to come off the DL and start Saturday at Seattle.
Athletics: 3B Matt Chapman sat out for a second straight day with a left knee infection but could be back on the field Thursday.
Gray had been a fast starter this season, allowing just two total runs in the first two innings of his initial nine starts. That all changed with a five-run first against the Astros that was the worst opening inning in Gray’s 106 career starts. He settled down after that and didn’t allow another run before leaving after five innings.
WELCOME TO THE MAJORS
A’s reliever Michael Brady made his major league debut in the ninth and got a rude greeting when Beltran homered to lead off the inning.
Houston RHP Mike Fiers (4-2) looks to win his seventh straight decision on the road. Oakland LHP Sean Manaea (6-3) has won five consecutive decisions overall, with a 2.84 ERA in those six starts.
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